Who is Patty you ask. Patty v.22 is the most human-like, human made automaton ever created to-date in the history of human ingenuity. Unprecedented. The prototype of Patty was actually designed, constructed, and finished in 1924. Naturally, Patty’s creator back then invested unbelievable, immeasurable time, care, love, exhausting hours, and sacrifice for Patty to become the most phenomenal automaton ever made. Or at least have the best chance of surviving. Patty-v.22 is undeniably and by far the highest standard of any automaton in the past, present, and foreseeable future. Patty-v.22 is indeed a creation and work of exquisite perfection! To appreciate just how perfectly engineered Patty-v.22 truly is let’s compare Patty’s predecessors.
Da Vinci’s Knight
Historical evidence suggests that Da Vinci may have actually built a prototype in 1495 while working under the patronage of the Duke of Milan. According to Da Vinci’s surviving sketches of key components, his knight was to be powered by an external mechanical crank and use cables and pulleys to sit, stand, turn its head, cross its arms and even lift up its metal visor. In 2002 NASA engineers built a rough resemblance of Da Vinci’s Knight based on extant notes and sketches. It was fully functional as designed.
The Mechanical Monk
According to legend, Phillip II’s son and heir suffered a head injury, and the King vowed to the heavens that he would deliver a miracle if the boy were spared. When the Prince recovered, Phillip II commissioned a clockmaker and inventor named Juanelo Turriano to build a lifelike recreation of beloved Franciscan friar Diego de Alcalá (later Saint Diego). Completed sometime in the 1560s, Turriano’s 15-inch-tall automaton is powered by a wound spring and uses an assortment of iron cams and levers to move on three small wheels concealed beneath its monk’s robe. Artificial feet step up and down to imitate walking, and the friar’s eyes, lips and head all move in lifelike gestures. Working together, these elements give the impression of a monk deep in prayer. The robot can walk in a square pattern mouthing devotionals, nodding its head and occasionally beating its chest with its right arm and kissing a rosary and cross with its left. The 450-year-old device is still operational today, and is held at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Al-Jazari’s Floating Orchestra
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Arabic polymath Al-Jazari designed and built some of the Islamic Golden Age’s most astounding mechanical creations. He invented a mechanized wine-servant, water-powered clocks and even a hand-washing machine that automatically offered soap and towels to its user. According to his “Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices,” published in 1206, he also designed a water-powered automaton orchestra that could float on a lake and provide music during parties. The contraption included a four-piece band—a harpist, a flautist and two drummers—accompanied by a crew of mechanical oarsman who “rowed” the musicians around the lake.
The Silver Swan
The still-functional “Silver Swan” is an avian automaton originally constructed by showman James Cox and watchmaker John Joseph Merlin in 1773. Using a trio of clockwork motors, the piece recreates the scene of a preening swan floating in a babbling brook. Levers and springs allow the bird to bend its neck and open its bill with startling realism, and an assortment of camshafts and glass rods create the illusion of a moving body of water with swimming fish—one of which the swan appears to catch and eat.
— Seven Early Robots and Automatons, the History Channel’s website accessed Nov. 13, 2019 at https://www.history.com/news/7-early-robots-and-automatons
And then there is David Roentgen’s the Dulcimer Player he created in 1784 for Louis XIV’s queen, Marie Antoinette.
These astonishing, unbelievable human creations clearly showed that a human being’s passion, ingenuity, creativity, and pure relentless commitment, then or now, to make and maintain, care for, even build a legacy for the ages… could/can outlive time itself, or close to it. But there is a major catch, a major condition that comes with these exquisite works of praise and creation and their timeless evolution through the ages.
They cannot survive or maintain their impeccable beauty and awe without the creator’s (or creators’) regular attentiveness and willing maintenance.
Imagine if you will your own, perfected, tested and retested by years of design experience, an incomparable automaton creation, that relationship, commitment, unwavering persistence for your best possible outcomes for your best automaton to survive and perform above and beyond expectations. Can that human creation of beauty be robotically wound-up, put out on the sidewalks, streets, and highways of life, and be expected to go out and survive unscratched, return home in mint condition, let alone navigate all of those endless moving variables, road-blocks, pot-holes, stop-lights, one-way wrong-way signs, or never be rewound during its LONG real-world trek when its mechanisms are eventually spent, out of energy, exhausted? Can works of art for the ages just be wound up, left alone and expected to survive out there, let alone thrive?
Is it possible for a 1-in-a-million creation, work of art between two people, two hopeless Lovers to wind-up their automaton then expect it to return home perfectly unscathed? How would the most beautiful, work of creation, Patty-v.22, function in 1-year, 3-years, 10-years of no regular mechanical attentiveness by its creator/designer?
Why does anyone today think that a neglected creation of perfection, they once helped make or contributed in huge ways, might survive the hard test of time and neglect over many months or years? Riddle me that.
Then there is a more humbling, possibly deeper penetrating, painful epiphany of existence too many human-creators tend to avoid or run away from—the 500 lbs gorilla in the room, the pink psychedelic elephant roaring in the room you supposedly cannot hear—which is… what is anything we build/create or passionately care for or neglect expected to last for eternity? HAH! That is one very jagged, sharp pill to swallow and pass like a kidney stone!
Perhaps realizing and humbly embracing the fact we are so very imperfect designers, so-so creative engineers, poor risk-assessors or underwriters that we then expect WAY TOO MUCH of our creations as contributors or designers is in fact… never perfect 24/7 over 365 days a year for 5, 10 or even 50-years. There is truly a lot to be admired and treasured for those who readily admit their imperfections, flaws, and lack of regular attentiveness to others. I think much of the time we are very self-consumed primates basking in our own creations of brilliance while oblivious to the constant change, wear and tear of time that constantly beset our fragile immortal works of creation and beauty. Neglect is the virus and cancer of all beautiful timeless legacies.
Live Well — Love Much More — Laugh Often — Be Humble — Learn Always
This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.professortaboo.com/contact-me/.